Also known as the Peacock Begonia, the Begonia pavonina gets its nickname from its stunning bright blue-green leaves. They are Malaysian plants, and the shade of their leaves changes to account for low-light conditions and allow them to absorb more sunlight.
They can grow to be about 16 to 25 inches in size, so they’re compact and perfect for small spaces. Their heart-shaped leaves have a reddish underside and grow to be roughly 3 to 5 inches. In the spring and summer, you might even notice some slight flowering on your plant.
To care for your Begonia pavonina, it needs moderate watering after the top 2 inches of the plant’s soil goes dry. It requires bright but indirect sunlight and prefers high humidity environments. It only takes a mild concentration of fertilizer to prosper, and it’s only necessary for the growing season of spring and summer.
Adding a Begonia pavonina to your home plant collection will give you a striking piece of décor as well as another plant to take care of. If you follow its particular care instructions, it will look its best and add some color to your home.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Growing
In Malaysia, the Begonia pavonina is from the rainforest. The rainforest has low light, so the leaves turn blue to perform photosynthesis better and get all the nutrients they need. This Begonia adapted to get the most out of its environment. But this doesn’t mean that it will thrive outdoors just anywhere.
Whether or not you should plant them outdoors depends on where you live and the type of climate your region experiences. They can’t survive in a warm environment, and the best temperature for growing is roughly between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s especially important to avoid warm climates at night.
With the delicate temperature control that your plant needs to thrive, indoor planting is typically the best at maintaining the longevity of your plant.
If you do choose to plant and grow outside, make sure that your plant is not in direct sunlight or its leaves can burn. It needs a balance of shade and sunlight for the leaves to retain their vibrant colors.
If you’re planting multiple plants, you can grow them close together; however, you should watch for weeds that get too close. The closer weeds get to your plant, the more they can affect the Begonia pavonina’s growth potential.
Sunlight for Your Begonia Pavonina
In their native Malaysia, they change the shade of their leaves to combat low light conditions, so they grow in diffused light. Placing them near a north-facing window is ideal because they have access to the sun, but it will never be direct.
When it gets a lot of sunlight, the leaves become greener than the striking blue, so if you want to have leaves with a blue hue, you’ll want a balance of light and shade. The darker the environment, the more the leaves turn blue to try to absorb more light, but it’s not a healthy condition for the plant to be in for an extended period.
These conditions cannot be replicated under artificial light. The Begonia pavonina can tell the difference. You won’t get the same effect without real sunlight.
Soil for Begonia Pavonina
Most Begonias need well-draining soil, and this variety is no exception. This soil is essential because if overwatered, your plant can get root rot from accumulating water. Root rot and fungus can quickly kill your plant before it can thrive.
You can get away with using common houseplant growing soil. It will drain excess water while retaining the moisture it needs to hydrate the plant and absorb nutrients and fertilizer. You’ll want your soil to be loose and aerated, and you can add some perlite to increase the drainage.
Adding a mixture of sphagnum moss with the perlite can help the drainage process even further. You want your soil to be a well-balanced PH, leaning towards alkaline soil.
However, if you don’t want to make a mix of soil yourself, you can seek out African violet potting soil, which has all the properties that your Begonia pavonina needs.
Watering Your Begonia Pavonina
Your Begonia pavonina needs moderate watering. Moderate watering means that the soil needs to be moist but not soggy or over-watered. The frequency of watering depends on the amount of sunlight it gets and the temperature of its environment.
In the fall and winter, you won’t need to water as often; once every two or three weeks will be enough. In the spring and summer, once or twice a week will suffice. In the height of summer and on the hottest days, you should be watering up to three times per week.
It would be best if you avoided overwatering because the soggy soil can suffocate and damage the roots. Issues like root rot and fungus can spring up, so it’s essential to check the soil before you water and strike a balance between too much and too little water.
An excellent way to test the soil dampness is to use your knuckle to push through the top few inches of soil to check if it’s dry. If the soil is dry, you are free to water it, but if it’s still damp, it’s best to hold off for a few days.
Not watering enough is as damaging as watering too much, just in different ways. If you dry your Begonia pavonina out too long, you can starve your plant. To ensure that your plant is getting the nutrients it needs, it’s best to check on this plant consistently, especially as you’re learning.
Temperature and Humidity for Your Begonia Pavonina
Your plant can’t survive in low-temperature environments. Anything below 55 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold for the Begonia pavonina. However, it also doesn’t like conditions that are too hot. So, its perfect home is a room that is kept a little cooler, like a bedroom or bathroom.
High humidity is ideal, and they appreciate a relative humidity between 60% and 80%. If the humidity drops below 40%, you will notice it start to look unhappy. The moisture allows the plant to grow faster and healthier. Depending on if you live in a naturally dry climate, you may need to take extra steps to ensure proper humidity for your Begonia pavonina.
Keeping your plant in a naturally high humidity room – like a bathroom – will fulfill all its humidity needs. You can also use a water tray with the Begonia pavonina on top of pebbles, lifting it away from the water. You can also invest in a humidifier to get a substantial increase in moisture, and you’ll be able to control the amount of moisture in the air more accurately.
Despite its love of humidity, you will want to avoid misting the Begonia pavonina because the leaves are prone to mildew and other fungal issues if the leaves get too wet.
Fertilizing Your Begonia Pavonina
Your Begonia pavonina will rely heavily on fertilizer. You will need to feed it once every two weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer that’s 20-20-20. You should be careful to dilute the fertilizer not to overfeed the plant. Too much fertilizer is worse than too little.
Fertilizers with a 10% concentration of Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus is recommended, and it should also include micro-nutrients like copper, Calcium, and magnesium.
There are synthetic and organic fertilizers, and either will work for your plant. Synthetic is more affordable; however, it does leave more salt in the soil. Organic is more expensive, and you would need to use more of it, so the cost adds up. However, it leaves less residue behind.
You should find a home for your plant that’s out of reach of children and animals because it is toxic for them. There are insoluble oxalate crystals in the foliage that, when ingested, can cause mouth, throat, and digestive problems.
Propagating your Begonia pavonina will allow you to add baby plants around your home or can be a great gift to a plant-loving friend. There are a couple of ways that you can successfully propagate your Begonia pavonina. You can choose to propagate in water or directly into the soil.
Stem cutting is the easiest way to cultivate a new plant. You will want to take a healthy stem that’s about 4 to 6 inches long with a few leaves. Using sterile shears, you will cut under a leaf node and have your cutting for your water or soil.
Typically, your parent Begonia pavonina is at its peak in the spring and summer, so that’s likely the best time to take your cutting and propagate.
Propagate Your Begonia Pavonina in Water
Arguably, it’s faster to propagate Begonia pavonina in water, but it does take more steps. However, some claim it’s more successful than soil propagation.
- Place your stem cutting into a glass or jar of water.
- Keep the jar in bright but indirect sunlight, like you would a potted plant.
- Change the water occasionally to avoid any growing fungus.
- After a few weeks pass, you will see the roots start growing from the stem.
- Once developed, move the stem into a pot with fresh potting soil.
- Keep it in high humidity to help it grow faster.
- You can now take care of it as you would a grown-up plant.
Propagate Your Begonia Pavonina in Soil
You can also use your stem cutting to propagate directly into the soil. You just need to take a slightly different process.
- Allow the stem cutting to dry out at the end until it begins to callous.
- Once it callouses, dip the end into rooting hormone, which will help improve rooting speed.
- Place the stem cutting into a fresh, well-drained potting mix.
- Keep the plant in bright but indirect sunlight, and after a few weeks, it will begin to grow.
- You will notice sprouting after a few months.
- Take care of your baby plant the same way you would its parent plant.
Pruning Your Begonia Pavonina
Your plant will grow quickly, so pruning will help it look good and keep a good shape. While it doesn’t grow tall, it can grow out and down, so trimming back the excess to allow for new growth can help control its size.
It’s also essential to remove any dead, unhealthy, or damaged leaves from the plant to keep it healthy. When they stay on the plant, they suck up energy and nutrients that can otherwise help your plant grow healthy.
Repotting Your Begonia Pavonina
Your Begonia pavonina should be planted in a small pot with drainage holes to allow moisture to flow through the soil. If you notice roots growing out of the drainage holes, it’s a sign that your plant is outgrowing its pot.
As a general rule, you should be repotting your plant every year. Keeping it in the same pot or the same size pot will limit its growth and can experience stress because of the confinement.
By moving it into a slightly larger pot annually, it will be a happier and healthier plant. It’s best not to jump to an oversize pot, though. The plant can get stressed out if the roots are not happy and make it more susceptible to pests and disease.
Repotting should be done gently, and you should place the plant in fresh soil – either African violet mix or sphagnum moss and perlite mix – to allow for the best conditions for drainage. Repotting is best done in the spring, at the beginning of its thriving growth season.
Pests in Your Begonia Pavonina
No one can deny that the Begonia pavonina is a stunning and unique-looking plant. An unfortunate downside is that they can be home to a variety of pests.
Whiteflies are a pest that you will likely find in your plant. They’re tiny little bugs that are only active during the day, and they steal sap from your plant. By stealing sap from your Begonia pavonina, they’re stealing water and essential nutrients that your plant needs to grow and thrive.
The danger of that is that it can prevent photosynthesis in your plant. They also have toxic saliva and enters your plant when they start feeding on it, which can cause it to wilt.
Another common pest is thrips. Thrips are even tinier and harder to spot than whiteflies. They, too, suck the sap from your plant and have toxic saliva that can make your plant sick. But the worse thing is that they can carry viruses to other plants and make them sick too.
Mealybugs are cotton-looking bugs that are common in Begonia pavoninas. They can hide under the leaves and steal the sap from your plant.
It’s important to check your plant for pests often because they can do a lot of damage, not just to that plant but to any others you have in your home. Once you spot any pests, it’s best to address them immediately.
One way to get rid of pests without harming your plant is neem oil. It suffocates pests, so once you spray your Begonia pavonina down with neem oil, you can wipe off the dead bugs after a few minutes.
Diseases in the Begonia Pavonina
There are many different diseases that Begonia pavonina plants can face, and the best way to address them is being able to recognize them on sight. It’s essential to continuously check your plant for any signs that your plant doesn’t look like it should.
Mildew on Your Begonia Pavonina
You might find powdery mildew accumulating on your plant. When the environment around your plant is too warm and dry, the mold begins to develop.
Other fungal diseases present differently. The leaves on your plant can turn yellow and dry out when the disease creates a different type of dusty mildew. The problem with fungus is that the spores can travel by wind and end up on other nearby plants.
Treating your plant with neem oil can rid your plant of mildew because it’s an effective fungicide, and you need to remove all the mildew-infested leaves from your plant to prevent further spreading.
Fungus on Your Begonia Pavonina
If your plant is in a cold and wet environment for an extended period, it could cause soft brown rot indicating Botrytis Blight mold. The brown rot can present on the stem or leaves and can even leave behind gray mold or lesions.
It’s a very insidious fungus that can attack your Begonia pavonina quickly and spread through your plant to do a lot of damage. If your plant is already sick, it’s even more susceptible to Blight. Try to treat it by removing all the visibly affected leaves, and if that doesn’t work, you may need to use chemical fungicides on your plant.
Bacterial Disease on Your Begonia Pavonina
Your plant can also get bacterial diseases that are dangerous to them. If you find blisters under the leaves of your Begonia pavonina, it’s an indication of Bacterial Leaf Spot. This bacteria forms when your plant stays too wet for too long. It spreads quickly, so it can do a lot of damage.
Bacterial Leaf Spot can present in various ways – some plants have lesions, some have yellow halos on the leaves or brown spots. If you spot any of these things, you have to remove the infected leaves immediately. If the signs of the bacteria persist, your plant may be too far gone and beyond saving.
What’s the best time of day to water a Begonia pavonina?
The best time of day to water is in the morning. The sunlight will help evaporate any excess water. Watering in the evening or at night can let too much water sit in the soil overnight.
Why is humidity good for the Begonia pavonina, but water misting is bad?
Water sitting on the leaves of your plant can be the perfect place for powdery mildew to grow. Since these plants are already more susceptible to fungal issues, it’s not worth the risk. When watering, be sure not to water from above—water from the plant’s base to keep the water directed to the soil.
Can you transplant a mature Begonia pavonina?
Typically, when repotting a plant, you’re doing so because it’s growing out of a previous size pot. If you have a plant that’s happy in its pot size, but you want to transplant it, you can. However, you want to do it gently. The roots of the plant are sensitive, and you want to make the transplant as smooth as possible.
Why are there spots and patterns on the Begonia pavonina leaves?
Discoloration of the leaves is not normal and could be a sign that your plant has a fungus or disease. Use neem oil treatment as a fungicide and remove the unhealthy-looking leaves. If the problem persists, do a little investigating to discern whether it’s a fungal or bacterial problem. You can deal with fungus by using chemicals, but bacterial issues can be fatal to your plant.
These plants demonstrate how plants can completely adapt to their environment in strange ways – like a plant changing its leaves blue to absorb light.
Begonia pavonina is a stunning plant whose blue-green leaves are an eye-catching, unique detail that adds life to any plant lover’s home. However, these plants are a commitment. You have to know what to look for when things go wrong, and you have to cater to their very specific care instructions.
But still, these picky plants can be worth it. They are compact and can fit into any space, and are a good choice for terrariums and indoor pots. You can keep the plant happy by giving it bright, indirect sunlight, moderate watering, and high humidity.
As long as you keep an eye out for pests and diseases and keep it away from any curious pets, you are all set to have a Begonia pavonina in your home.